Screens and social media apps like TikTok enthrall kids unlike anything else, and in today’s world, technology is virtually inescapable. But what are the effects of all this screen time on developing brains – and how much is too much?
Symptoms of Too Much Screen Time on Children and Adolescents
Have you ever considered how often you and your family members interact with the world through devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets and TVs? While these electronics can be educational and entertaining, spending long hours on them can become problematic, leading to physical and mental health issues like these.
- Obesity: Screen time for kids can lead to a largely sedentary lifestyle that causes weight gain. Children and adolescents have fewer opportunities for exercise and active playtime when they spend long stretches in front of a television or computer.
- Disrupted sleep: Teenagers need more sleep than adults to support the rapid growth they are undergoing. However, some studies estimate that around 75% of children use electronics in bed, which can severely interfere with sleep quality and quantity. Sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, difficulty concentrating and impaired academic performance. Sleep-deprived teens may also be more likely to have mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
- Behavioral problems: Students who spend more than two hours a day watching TV, playing video games or using a computer or smartphone are more likely to have emotional, social and attention problems.
Screen Time Recommendations for Kids
If you always have your head buried in a screen, consider the example you’re setting for your kids. You are sending an implied message that technology is more meaningful or valuable than in-person connections and interactions. Reducing screen time for kids and adults frees up more time to forge genuine relationships, find fun hobbies and soak up new experiences. By setting aside your devices and being present in the moment, you can start living life more fully, surrounded by loved ones.
It isn’t too late to help your family make lifestyle changes if screen time has become excessive. Talk to your kids about the importance of getting more exercise, and set some ground rules limiting how long people in your family can spend watching TV, using phones or looking at tablets and laptops.
Try these easy tips to reduce the amount of screen time your family gets.
- Turn off your TV. Many people have a habit of turning on their television to provide background noise. Even if you’re not paying attention to it, it can be distracting and make it hard for children to stop watching.
- Encourage “exercise snacking.” Teach kids some yoga stretches or other moves they can do while watching a show or movie. Challenge your family to see who can do the most jumping jacks, push-ups or crunches during a commercial break.
- Keep technology away from bedrooms. Children with devices like TVs and computers in their bedrooms can be tempted to stay up all night watching movies or playing video games. Monitor your kids’ screen time and the media they consume by keeping your television and computer in a shared area and watching or playing with them.
Proven Treatment for Kids and Their Families
Adolescents can become addicted to technology like video games and the internet. At The Forum, we focus specifically on the unique needs of teens between the ages of 13 and 18. Our founder, Dr. Joanna Savarese, has more than 15 years of experience working with children and young adults. That dedicated focus helps us understand how to help your teenager – even if it seems like nothing else has reached them. Contact us today to learn about our treatment programs for teens.